Portsmouth Hospital Broadcasting........

Its Beginnings and the service today

On three occasions in the early 50's the gates of Fratton Park had to be closed early because of a capacity crowd.  A police sergeant, Brian Morrissey was asked to provide a commentary on the match to the crowds locked outside.  Without knowing it, Brian had begun a new role.  Afterwards it was realized that there were many patients in hospitals that were fans of Portsmouth Football Club.

On 27th October 1951 the first commentary specifically for hospital patients was relayed from Fratton Park.  This broadcast so impressed one of the Club's Directors, Vernon Stokes, that he lost no opportunity to put forward the idea to the Directors of other league clubs.

Mr Stokes' enthusiasm and the commentaries themselves were to act a springboard for the rapid expansion of sports broadcasting to patients in hospitals and to the development of Hospital Broadcasting in general.

Portsmouth became a role model in the development of such services throughout the rest of the United Kingdom.

The football commentary service had been operating since 1951 but, it wasn't until 1968 that the idea for a complete radio station began.

It was during 1968/69 that Paul Robbins, together with fellow Portsmouth Grammar School pupil Richard Skinner, developed an interest in radio.  They made programmes on homespun equipment and sent a sample to Radio One Disc Jockey Johnnie Walker, who suggested that they contact their local hospital radio service and apply their "talents" to that.  It was then that they discovered that Portsmouth did not have a service of this kind.

With the help and blessing of the Hospital's Management Committee, who gave them the go-ahead and space to use as a studio.  PHB was born.

They refurbished and decorated an underground operating theatre beneath St, Mary's and went on the air in April 1970.  The number of broadcasting hours were gradually increased to take in music programmes as well as football commentaries.

The service began to expand rapidly, but the old studios suffered from frequent flooding due to the underground location so finally in 1986 PHB moved to its present location in the Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham.  The opening night was featured live on prime time television on the BBC's HospitalWatch programme just prior to the 6 O'clock news - seen by millions.

It now broadcasts seven days a week from 3.00pm until 11.00pm on weekdays and from 8.00am until 11.00pm at the weekend.  PHB is constantly striving to increase the number of broadcasting hours with the eventual aim of making it a 24 hour service.

Broadcasts are on 945 Khz and 317 metres on the medium wave band and channels 1,3 &5 on the hospital handsets.

PHB is a registered charity (Charity Number - 261548), has 40 presenters and 110 other members.  Not only are all who work at the station volunteers but they pay an annual subscription to be a member of the charity.  It costs approximately £3,000 a year to run the station and all our funds come from donations and what fund raising events we organize ourselves.

Our main fund raising event each year is the Southsea Show.  From the Common we present a variety of programmes and always have professional acts each day.  The entire three days is recorded and selected highlights are played on Portsmouth Hospital Broadcasting.

 Back to PHB Home Page